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Stunning mural of George Floyd provides community ‘a place to process’

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Minneapolis resident Dale Zarlee paused for a few minutes Saturday morning near the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, standing in the background before slowly making his way towa…
Minneapolis resident Dale Zarlee paused for a few minutes Saturday morning near the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, standing in the background before slowly making his way toward the George Floyd mural.
With bouquets of flowers resting at his feet, and “I’ll Be Missing You” by Puff Daddy blaring out of a nearby car stereo, Zarlee put his hands on his head as he looked at the portrait of the man who died under a Minneapolis police officer’s knee on Memorial Day.
“Senseless,” Zarlee said.
Anoka resident Makena Hess arrived on the scene about 10 minutes later, completely consumed by her surroundings as she gazed at the mural from afar. She eventually made her way closer to the front, trying to compose herself as she stared at the wall.
“Brokenness,” Hess said.
Minneapolis resident Monica Simmons showed up just as “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE” chants broke out from the hundreds of protesters in attendance. She joined in as tears welled up in her eyes.
“Suffering,” Simmons said.
Eventually, the “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE” chants morphed into “I CAN’T BREATHE” chants, referencing some of the finals words Floyd pleaded before he died.
As the scene built to a crescendo, the image, the name, and more importantly, the memory, of George Floyd served as the backdrop. Which was always the goal for local artist Xena Goldman when she decided to paint the mural in the first place.
“It provides people a place to process,” Goldman said. “I think having a place for people to come and cry or scream or pray or do whatever they need to do is really important.”
Like so many people, Goldman felt powerless in the immediate aftermath of Floyd’s death, her sadness and anger simultaneously manifesting in her head with no rhyme or reason.
She wanted to help. She just wasn’t sure how she could.
Then it hit her.
“As artists, this is our tool,” Goldman said. “This is something we can do to serve the community and honor his memory.”
As protests erupted in the days after Floyd’s death, Goldman went down to the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue to scope out the scene. She talked to members of the community Wednesday, two days after Floyd died, asking where they thought the best spot would be to commemorate him.
“They told me that Cup Foods would be a good spot because that’s where he was killed,” Goldman said. “There was a mural on the side of the building that had already been tagged over so we felt like the artist probably wouldn’t mind.

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